GRAHAM Jagger is a former Craven resident who now lives in the United States, here he discusses the forthcoming presidential election - and how politics is a very different animal as it is in the UK. 


FIRST can I wish everyone back in the Skipton and Craven area a very happy New Year from Atlanta, Georgia USA.

The subject that knits the two countries together this year is “politics” as both countries have crucial and significant elections ahead this year. It’s a subject that polarises people here in the US much more than it does in the UK from my experience.

While living in the UK I always felt that I could talk about politics and political opinions without falling out with whoever I was talking with or losing friends, but it is so different here.

Politics creeps into virtually every aspect of daily life here and is corrosive to an extent you cannot comprehend. It’s difficult to avoid seeing and hearing about it on TV and each TV channel appears to have their own political biases so you’re never sure if what you are hearing is the truth and factually based or opinion.

I know that over the years there’s always been criticism of what you might hear and see on the BBC for example and whether or not there was some “political bias” in their reporting but here, it’s all in plain sight. So, your choice of TV station here can very well be an indication of your political leaning. Of course, here, there are only two political parties, the Republicans, and the Democrats. At least in the UK there are some alternatives to the two main parties.

Republicans compare with the Conservatives in the UK and Democrats are the equivalent to the Labour Party. However, it’s the opposite when it comes to colours. Republicans are “red”, and Democrats are “blue” when it comes to identification.

However, each party has their extreme elements in them but none more so than the Republicans. It’s absolutely no secret but those politicians and members of the public who are supporters of the former President, Donald Trump, referred to here as the “MAGA (Make America Great Again) Republicans are predominantly on the right of their party and with a handful more are the most extreme in that direction.

If you ever think that the Tory Party has within it some who are way to the right, then I can assure you that wouldn’t register on the scale of such things here.They would probably be seen as almost left leaning Republican Conservatives in comparison. That’s how extreme it can get here.

Of course, the Democrats have a few but only a very few compared with the Republicans. A left leaning Democrat would be comparable to the average Labour party supporter in the UK. So, the balance of political positions is in a different place here to that in the UK.

For me, that’s quite hard to come to terms with just yet but I’m sure over time I’ll adjust to the way it is and how things work.

Here, the date of the election is already known and set in place for November 5 this year. Of course, no one here realises the significance of that date in the UK and what Guy Fawkes tried to do to the Houses of Parliament.

The last similar election when Joe Biden was elected President or better known as the day that Donald Trump was voted out of office was held on November 3, 2020, which was the day I moved into my house here.

I was more preoccupied in my domestic circumstances than what was happening on a national scale that day. But the big difference in the whole election process is that here you vote for who will be President along with a host of other Representatives, Senators, local representatives and even policy issues on the ballot.

Who becomes the President may not be of the same political party that has a majority in either or both the House of Representatives and the Senate. It’s complicated to say the least.

The House of Representatives is the equivalent to the House of Commons and the Senate like the House of Lords but where the Lords is by appointment here the Senate is by public vote.

On your ballot here you will be invited to vote on a multitude of roles and local policy issues all at the same time. Voting is by way of an IT based voting system, but you get a paper print out that you then feed into the counting system.

Much has been said about the security of these systems, but the 2020 election was said by all the “experts” to have been the safest and most secure ever in the US. But then there’s still the claim by the former President that the election was “rigged and stolen” which still lingers on today.

Georgia is once again predicted to be a key State in the upcoming election based upon what happened last time. Georgia, as just about every southern State has been a “red” State for ages but last time two Democrat Senators were elected which turned it into a “purple” State now. From all that I’ve seen and heard it’s going to be interesting here again and could well be the State that swings things one way or the other. However, it will not be because of a vote from me because I am not allowed to vote. You must be a US citizen to vote and I’m just a “legal permanent resident” or what’s know as a “Green Card holder” at the present time. But I can still vote in the UK General Election, whenever that might be because I’m still a British citizen and registered with North Yorkshire as an “Overseas Voter”.

So, this year I will be casting my vote for who represents Skipton and Ripon Constituency just as those of you reading this.

There is absolutely no doubt that politics is a different animal here to politics in the UK and I sincerely hope that despite what you might think about UK politics it never gets like it is here.